Dave Smith, synth pioneer and “Father of Midi,” has died
Dave Smith, who created the Prophet-5 synthesizer and pioneered the use of MIDI, has died. His company, Sequential, shared the sad news, writing, "It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died. We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists."
Born in 1950 in San Francisco, Smith founded Sequential Circuits in 1974, and in 1977 debuted the now legendary Prophet-5, which was the world’s first fully-programmable polyphonic synth, and the first musical instrument with an embedded microprocessor. The Prophet-5 can be heard on Michael Jackson's Thriller, Madonna's Like a Virgin, many John Carpenter soundtracks, Radiohead's Kid A, and The Terminator soundtrack, just to name a few.
Smith is also known for shepherding the use of MIDI, the universal technical standard that allowed different synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines to work with each other and changed the world of electronic music. He coined the acronym ("Musical Instrument Digital Interface") too. Smith won a technical Grammy in 2013, alongside Ikutaro Kakehashi, for the creation of MIDI.
Yamaha acquired Sequential Circuits in 1987, and Smith worked for Yamaha and KORG. In 2015, Yamaha returned the Sequential Circuits trademark to Smith, which he rebranded as Sequential in 2018.
Rest in peace, Dave. Read tributes from Duran Duran, Hot Chip, Flying Lotus and more -- and watch a video about the Prophet-5 -- below.